Dominic Cooper takes on a dual role in this fact-based thriller as the unhinged son of Saddam Hussein and the man forced into the role of his body double. Set in 1980’s Iraq, The Devil’s Double portrays the volatile and monstrous nature of the man nicknamed ‘Black Prince’.
Uday Hussein is a reckless party animal with an insatiable appetite for women and violence. His weakness is that he deeply fears assassination attempts on his life, so he employs Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia to act as his body double. Latif is forcibly thrust into the Hussein household and is immediately thrown into a world of fast cars, drugs and women. He is quickly ordered to abandon his former identity and take on the role of Uday in every aspect. Fearing the safety of his family members, he learns to talk, walk and act like Uday completely.
Uday is introduced as a playboy party-starter with his impulsive, clownish nature. This illusion is swiftly shattered when we see the brutality of his actions. He kills without thought and abuses and discards the women he encounters just as easily. Throughout the film we see the different levels of Uday’s madness. His obsession with Latif makes for compelling viewing. The hardened, calm exterior of Latif compared with the outright flamboyance of Uday showcase Cooper’s talent as an actor perfectly. He embodies both characters with different mannerisms and speech to exemplify the vast space between them. Latif remains cold to Uday whilst serving him as his prisoner; compared with how Uday lavishes affection upon Latif by giving him designer suits and luxury accommodation. He refers to him throughout as his ‘brother’ but in reality, he sees Latif simply as a reflection of himself and uses him to satisfy his own egotistical self-love.
The film is unsettling throughout as not even Uday’s closest advisors are able to predict his next move. His actions become increasingly more horrific and the audience is left stunned by the extent of his madness. The film bears resemblance in parts to classic gangster flicks. The slick style of the film and lavish backdrops encapsulate the rich world of Uday, whilst showing the depravity to his persona. The film has been likened to Scarface in its depiction of violence and decadence. This comparison seems appropriate since the atrocious acts we see are accompanied by sumptuous scenes of glamour and riches. Cooper is both cool and maniacal in the roles of Uday and his double, showing the complexities of both characters. If you see Dominic Cooper in one film this year, I urge you to see this one. Although at times the horrors in the movie appear glamourised due to the mobster like nature of the film, Cooper’s performance is enthralling.